Revisiting the Kessel Trade to Arizona

As Phil Kessel, aka Phill the Thrill, prepares for his debut as a Vegas Golden Knight, let’s take a walk down memory lane and revisit the trade that brought Kessel to desert and evaluate whether the Coyotes or Penguins won the trade. To refresh your memory of the Phil Kessel trade between Arizona and Pittsburgh during the 2019 season:

Arizona Received:

  • Phil Kessel: Phil the thrill brought a lot of excitement and promise to the Coyotes organization and fans. His first season was underwhelming as he recorded 14G- 24A- 38P in 70 GP before the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the remainder of the regular season. During the shortened 2020-21 season, he led the Yotes with 20G and 43P. Unfortunately, his goals production dipped to 8 this past season, but he did lead the team in assists with 44.  His offensive stats during the three years- 42G- 91A-133P in 208 GP could have better especially given his $8 million AAV and $6.8 million cap hit. However, he did continue his ironman streak and did not miss a single game for the Coyotes, even when his partner was in labor. Kessel also brought a lot of intangibles to the team including experience, leadership, and a great personality which bonded all his teammates together.
  • Dane Birks: Birks has been invisible for the Coyotes to say the least. The former 6th round draft of the Penguins most recently played in the ECHL in the 2020-21 season. Birks has only played 2 games in the AHL. It’s unlikely that Birks will be playing in the NHL anytime soon.
  • 4th Round Draft Pick in 2019 Draft: This pick was to select LW Matias Maccelli. Maccelli had a respectable 1G-5A- 6P in 23 GP with the Yote this past season. His AHL numbers were superb as he notched 14G- 43A- 57P in 47GP with the Roadrunners. Since Maccelli is only 21 years old, his game will likely continue to evolve and develop and he can only grow as a player.

What Pittsburgh Received

  • Alex Galchenyuk: Galchenyuk struggled significantly since being traded to the Penguins. In addition to Pittsburgh, he also suited for Minnesota, Ottawa, and Toronto before returning back to Arizona for the 2021-22 season. Since the trade, he has yet to reach 40 point plateau, a milestone he consistently achieved while playing for Montreal and during his first stint with the Coyotes.
  • Pierre-Oliver “P.O” Joseph:  Since the trade, P.O had the amazing opportunity to watch his brother, Mathieu, win two Stanley Cups with Tampa Bay and sign a lucrative deal with Ottawa. Unfortunately, P.O has yet to have as memorable of an experience in the National League as he played in only 20 NHL games for the Pittsburgh and spent majority of the past few years in the AHL with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Although he is only 23 years old, it is hard not to think that P.O may be just an AHL player at best.

Evaluation: At the time of writing, Arizona Coyotes won the Phil Kessel trade. As mentioned earlier, Kessel brought a lot more than offense to the team.  The Yotes also received a potential first or second line LW in Maccelli during the trade.  On the other hand, the two former 1st round draft picks that Pittsburgh received has yet to live up to the 1st round hype. Given that Galchenyuk bounced was traded shortly afterwards from Pittsburgh and eventually made his way back to the desert, it provides additional reasons that the Coyotes won the trade. Unless Joseph becomes an NHL All-Star and Norris trophy defensemen, this trade should be a fairly easy W for the Yotes.

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